Pachai Mundaya at MGM Medical College and Hospital, Jamshedpur, on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Negligence has touched a new low at state-run MGM Medical College and Hospital, where a 35-year-old gunshot victim is waiting to be operated on for four days while doctors are attributing this life-threatening delay to OT crunch.
Pachai Mundaya, a resident of Khetnabera village in Jhinkpani, West Singhbhum, took two bullets — one on the forehead right above the nose and another in the jaw through the earlobe — in an attack on August 26. He was shifted to the government heal hub in Jamshedpur from the sadar hospital in Chaibasa the next day for immediate surgery. But, all medical attention he has received so far is a visit to an X-ray clinic and a shoddy bandage on one of his wounds.
Pachai’s wife Manikui said the wound near the nose, which had been kept open, had become infected. “My husband’s face has swollen up. The doctor has been assuring us that he will be operated on soon. But four days have gone by and his turn in the OT is yet to come,” the 28-year-old woman and mother of five said.
According to Manikui, ever since they came to MGM, Pachai had undergone two X-rays, which showed the bullets were trapped near the nose and the mouth. “The surgeon is not giving us a date. My husband cannot eat or speak properly. He is in acute pain, but no one seems to care,” she rued.
Records showed that Pachai is admitted under ENT surgeon Anil Kumar Lakra. While the doctor was not available for comments, an assistant in the ENT department claimed they had scheduled the operation for Friday.
“The patient in question was, initially, brought to the emergency ward after being referred here from Chaibasa. He came to our department only yesterday. Today, the OT was booked for another surgery. We will do the operation tomorrow,” said the assistant.
But, the ordeal is unlikely to end for Pachai even then. According to the assistant, they had been able to precisely understand the location of one bullet, which will be removed on Friday.
“We are not clear on how to extricate the other. We are unable to zero in on the exact location of the bullet in the mouth region. It will be risky to operate there without precision. Another operation will take some time,” he said, though admitting that the condition of the patient was “very serious” and he needed immediate surgery.
Hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad was brief in his answer when asked why was a gunshot victim left unattended by surgeons. “The doctor concerned will do his job based on the patient’s condition. I will ensure the patient is operated on as early as possible,” he said.
Asked to explain the delay, Prasad added: “We do have 10 operating theatres, but they are exclusive to departments. An ENT patient cannot be operated on at any other OT even if it is an emergency because special surgery equipment is required.”
So, Pachai Mundaya can blame his sufferings on infrastructure restrictions.
The man, who earns his living as a mason in Jhinkpani, was attacked by a group of 11 in his native village. His cousin was killed, while he was grievously injured. The attackers, who were from the same tribal community, suspected that Pachai practised black magic.
Magic is perhaps what the young man needs to survive this nightmare.